10 Things I Learned This Month During the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Well, I guess it’s taken this past month of CRAZINESS to finally write in this blog again.

I used to write a monthly post called “10 Things I Learned Last Month” – you can search for past posts in the search bar.

Here is the latest addition of 10 Things I Learned, summing up March 2020 (which seriously felt like an entire year). This past month, we faced the global pandemic of Covid-19, with the U.S. going into a nation-wide sabbatical. Most people, aside from essential workers, are currently working from home, schooling from home, and trying to adjust to this weird limbo life for the unforeseen future. In our home, our family is still figuring out new rhythms that work for us.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month.

1. I am under more stress than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

There are many things about the current season that are inherently stressful. Global crisis, sickness and death, economic downturn, of course. And also personal things, like worrying about my older friends and family members’ health, helping my kids adjust to lots of uncertainty, and tending to the needs within our church community. And in the midst of stress, I observe interesting ebbs and flows in me that have been unpredictable at times. Some moments I feel certain and secure, armed with a we-got-this attitude. And then other moments I’m crying, stress eating ice cream, and can’t fall asleep because I’m anxious.

2. I need my tribe of people right now.

This is the time to tighten those relational connections with the people that matter most. And I am so grateful I have my people, and ways to deepen those connections. Phone calls and texts with friends have become lifelines. Family conference calls on Zoom and video messages on Marco Polo are keeping us afloat. Thank God for technology that allows us to reach out to others right now.

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3. We are all facing loss and disappointment.

Every single one of us is dealing with losses of some kind. My kids can’t see their friends, and that’s hard. Some of our extended family members and friends cannot work right now, and that’s hard. One big loss for our family is that we were scheduled to officially adopt our foster son this week, but now that’s on hold because the court system in Hawaii is essentially shut down right now. And that’s hard. Really hard. I’ve cried several times from all the loss I’m feeling.

(Since I haven’t written anything here about fostering, this may be news to you. It has been an adventure and joy for our family, and I hope to write a longer post about that at some point.)

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4. I love discovering unexpected beauty around me.

Though life in our home is more chaotic than normal, there are many joys worth celebrating. My kids are so resilient and healthy. Of course there are conflicts, but overall my kids have been really kind with each other. I love seeing their friendships and sweet moments together. There is a lot of fun and laughter in our family.

I also love the beautiful, creative ways people around us are reaching out, connecting with others, and offering what they have to bless others. Humans are so wonderfully compassionate and innovative!

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5. I need to pay attention to my inner world when engaging with social media.

RIght now social media feels like both a wonderful gift and a potential minefield, depending on the moment. On the good end, it’s a way to maintain social connections, read funny things that help me have a healthy level of humor, get parenting tips, and of course, learn about the gloriousness that is Tiger King on Netflix. But if I linger too long on social media, I start to get overwhelmed with news that worries me, posts that make me question whether I’m doing enough, and other things that do more harm than good. So I’m learning how to intentionally pay attention to how my heart and soul are doing while I’m on things like Facebook or Instagram. And at the point when I feel fear or anxiety rising up, it’s probably a wise time to shut it off and find other things to do.

6. More time at home means more time to cook, read, and write.

I am enjoying all this time to slow down and do things that I love, such as baking bread and reading books. Here are a few foods I’ve been making at home:

Feel free to check out my Recipe Archives for more food.

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7. When you know it’s a marathon, and not a sprint, your strategy changes.

At first it seemed like this stay-at-home thing was for two weeks, and our family went into a certain mode. It felt new and exciting, we had a long list of fun things to do, and I had lots of romantic ideas of what schooling at home would be. It was like a Quarantine Honeymoon. Now, with schools seemingly being closed for a significantly longer time, and no clear end date to staying-at-home and physical distancing, we’ve shifted into creating more sustainable rhythms. We have some structure to our day, but also a lot of fluidity, depending on the needs of our family. Here’s a resource list I created called Things to Do at Home With Kids. Some days we do a few organized activities, other days we do none. We’ve set up some longer term work spaces in our house for all the school and Zoom meetings. I think we’re still adapting to seeing this as a longer reality than when it first started, but that’s where our family of six is at.

8. Speaking of Zoom, I’ve been enjoying leading virtual Enneagram workshops.

Since becoming a certified Enneagram coach, I’ve been finding ways to educate and equip people with the Enneagram for personal, professional, and relational growth. And thanks to Zoom, I can continue leading group workshops. They have been so much fun! If you want to know more about the Enneagram and the training I offer for groups and teams, go here.

9. Thank goodness for TV (and other wonderful things).

Seriously, there is so much to be grateful for. I am thankful that we have things like a stable home, jobs, food, our sweet baby boy who is thriving, Netflix, audiobooks, coffee, a front yard and driveway where my kids can play, friends who check in with us, my kids’ teachers who are freaking amazing, a healthy family, toilet paper and hand sanitizer, moments of solitude on my front patio, yoga, my husband finally deciding he’s ready to watch Game of Thrones with me, virtual happy hour, Shipt grocery delivery, my older kids’ ability to be helpful and self-sufficient, pizza, a large stock of wine, and so much more.

10. Easter is stripped down this year, and that’s sort of nice.

With life being simplified and decluttered, this holiday weekend that’s usually full of activities and gatherings is fundamentally different. This year we’ll have a quieter Easter celebration at home, and rest in the truth that Jesus is victorious, life emerges from death, God is good, and we have nothing to fear. Happy Easter, everyone.

What about you? What things have you learned recently?

 

 

Happy 4th Birthday, Aria

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I write letters to my children on their birthdays. Here is last year’s letter to Aria.

Dear Aria,

Happy 4th birthday!

What a year you’ve had. A great year of new things, like preschool, moving from a car seat to booster seat, transitioning completely out of pull-up diapers (YAY!), learning to write your name, figuring out how to fold your laundry the KonMari way, and finding new things that you love.

Currently, you love playing Memory, creating art, eating instant ramen, having books read out loud to you, singing songs from Doc McStuffins, telling us about your friends at preschool, riding on your scooter, and cleaning windows with what you call “window-dex” (aka Windex). Most days you dress up in creative, colorful outfits, which accurately reflects your exuberant personality.

You add so much joy and flair everywhere you go. You are confident, and able to jump into lots of new situations with excitement. There are so many unique and special things about you, Aria.

I hope this next year brings new discoveries and adventures.

Hugs, kisses, and lots of love,

Mommy

Reflections on 2018

Happy New Year (2)

Happy New Year’s Eve!

As we enter the new year, my annual tradition is to take time to reflect on the past year. It helps me to remember what I learned, step back and take a deeper look, and embrace the coming new year. Here are my reflections from 2017.

1. What was the best thing that happened this year?

A lot of good things happened this year, so I’m cheating and listing several highlights.

  • I started a women’s discipleship group with some really amazing, world-changing people.
  • Steve and I connected with the Underground Network, an incredible wealth of ministry mentors and friends.
  • All three of our kids transitioned into new schools, and thrived.
  • Steve made a leap into a new career as a mortgage loan officer, and it’s been such a good fit.

2. What was the most challenging thing that happened?

I had several challenging situations that forced me to consider, “What’s my role in this? And what is not mine?” In other words, how do I respond with love and compassion, as well as wisdom? And how do I determine my place between what IS and IS NOT my responsibility to handle? I turned these questions over and over in my heart for a good part of this year.

3. What was an unexpected joy?

There were a few hours each week when all our kids were in school, and I had time to myself. The joy and freedom! I really loved having quiet and solitude in these moments.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

Feeling tired. Despite trying to maintain healthy habits – enough sleep, healthy food and vitamins, regular exercise – there have been days when I wake up, and just do not feel rested.

5. Pick three words to describe 2018.

Try. Nurture. Adventure.

6. What were the best books you read this year?

Another Place at the Table – The personal and startlingly honest account of a woman’s thirteen-year experience as a foster parent.

The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth – Of the many Enneagram books I’ve read, this is the one I keep coming back to and recommending to others. It is rich with wisdom about the Enneagram, and serves as a guide for those seeking a practical way to God and deep transformation.

Columbine – An in-depth account of the tragic mass shooting that has reverberated for decades, and how much of what we “know” is wrong. The book is by Dave Cullen, one of the first reporters on the scene, and this makes his corrections and critiques on media coverage all the most insightful.

7. What did you do in 2018 that you’ve never done before?

I found a new hobby – boxing. I needed a way to exercise, release stress, and work out my anger. So I hung a punching bag in our garage, and that’s my cardio.

8. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

For 2018, here were my goals and the results:

  • Exercise 3-4 times a week. I did an okay job with this. Tracking this in my Bullet Journal was helpful.
  • Meet with a spiritual director monthly. Nope, did not do this.
  • Invest in a few primary peer friendships. Yes, I did this. Success.
  • Do the Life Reflection once a week. I probably did this every month or so.

As far as keeping my 2018 resolutions, I give myself a C+/B-.

For 2019, here are my resolutions:

  • Spend time and energy on meaningful things.
  • Make disciples who make disciples.
  • Help my kids love God and love people.
  • Do things with faith and love.
  • Ask for help.

9. For what are you most grateful?

Our extended family (both Steve’s side and mine). Mentors who have given me guidance and wisdom. Our Bluewater faith community that keeps me growing and trying.

10. How did you change this year?

I take things less seriously, and have a bit more humor. That’s a good thing for me.

11. What moments were most memorable?

The false ballistic missile threat alert that freaked out everyone in Hawaii, and prompted me to create an emergency kit. A generous friend gifting us with a staycation in Waikiki. Camping out at Aloha Stadium to get Bruno Mars tickets. The passing of my friend and mentor, Jen.

12. What were your greatest discoveries?

  • Spotify
  • Habit tracking with a Bullet Journal
  • Dry shampoo
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix

13. What are you looking forward to this coming year?

I am looking forward to new adventures.

14. What was the most significant thing you learned this year?

It is a worthy endeavor to seek and find what is eternal.